Katoomba Music Festival

Spent the weekend at the Katoomba Music Festival.

The most common thing apart from the music at the festival was the perpetual rain.

Katoombah 1

A view at the rear of The Big Top stage, Sunday afternoon.
A walkway has been constructed of wooden pallets
and even they were starting to sink!
Notice there's no background: Just clouds masquerading as fog.

Katoombah 2

Fog machine in action? No, just some very low cloud inside the tent.

Most of the technicians were worried as electrical gear is not meant to operate or even be in 98% humidity for three days and nights. Luckily nothing exploded and no one was electrocuted.

It was impossible to see all of the acts as there were 9 stages in operation at once. I missed half of the festival as I had a gig Friday night and spent most of Saturday driving to Katoomba. Must remember to turn off the 'Take Tollway' option on the GPS!

I arrived within minutes of the Nick Charles Trio's evening gig at The Clarendon. I spotted Pete Fidler having his last smoke outside the front door before going on stage as I was walking by, what good fortune. The guys put on a great show, glad to have caught it. Walked a little further down the street to the Blue Room at the R.S.L. to catch The Rosie Flores Trio they had the audience dancing and shouting for more.

I called it quits after that, it had been a long day.

First act of the day was the Guitar Circle #2 held at The Big Top. Access was becoming difficult as the water level was rising and the grass was disappearing under the mud. Some people had the sense to wear gumboots! The session comprised Nick Charles (Guitar), Joseph Tawadros (Oud), Tony McManus (Guitar) and Tim O'Brien (Guitar). Pete Fidler was guest artist for one song. They each took turns to play a song and then round again until the time was used up. They were all exceptional musicians, but I was really impressed with Tony McManus. He pushed as the best 'Celtic Guitarist' in the world, but I was really taken with his arrangements. They were so full, nothing was missing and it was just him and his guitar, most impressed. Tim O'Brien didn't seem to be in a very good mood, but he played brilliantly. He started off by saying he wasn't a guitarist, but you could have fooled me.

I had listened to an interview with Joseph Tawadros on the A.B.C. and his claim to fame is his fluency on the Oud. Sure enough, he was very good and fitted in well with the other players. His humour has to be heard, he's a funny guy.

Next session was Phil Manning at The Clarendon. A solo spot, just Phil, his guitar and a stomp box. Every act is introduced by an M.C. and Phil's claim to fame is his 'National Treasure' status. Had a listen to a few songs by the Spooky Man's Chorus at the R.S.L. A large collection of a-cappella singers. Very nice.

Walked to the C.B.D. and made time to have lunch.

Sat though another session with the Nick Charles Trio at the Carrington Forecourt. More great playing to a 'select' audience.

Walked back to the R.S.L. site and listened in on Tim O'Brien's Two Oceans Trio. Since it was Tim's show, he seemed a little more connected with the audience but still strangely distant. The trio turned into an octet by the end of the set. I can't remember the name of the song he sang as an encore, but it was beautiful, just Tim singing and playing fiddle with harmony parts. He's one talented guy. It seems he's quite demanding too! He expected each of the four stage monitors to have a different mix. Not sure if he got it or not.
Stayed on to see 'The Waifs' which is where the pictures were taken. I knew the name but have never seen them or heard their music. They were the first act I'd seen that used a real drummer. They took longer to set up as they had to do a sound check. Bass drum, snare, cymbals, tom-toms, bang, bang, tinkle, tinkle, seemed a bit much. They seemed to be 'just another' pop band and what annoyed me was that they changed instruments every song! A bit indulgent I thought.

Tried to pick the driest path out out of the tent to have dinner at the R.S.L. I noticed some people were enterprising enough to use plastic shopping bags over their shoes.

The last act for the Festival was Chain, at the R.S.L. I sat through half an hour and thought to myself "I've heard this all before" and left. Not a great fan of Deja Vu.

I asked a lady who worked at the R.S.L. if there was any place where an after hours session may be held. She quickly responded that they all head for The Clarendon and added that they jammed until 5:00 am last night. There's a missed opportunity.

Walked up to The Clarendon and waited for Bob Corbett to finish and just waited. Andrew O'Grady, the bass player for the Nick Charles Trio spotted me sitting there and knew I wanted a jam, told me to go over to where Nick Charles and Pete Fidler were sitting as they had taken their instruments out. I walked over and after they finished a song I asked if I could join in. They said I could, so I took out the Dobro and joined in. Conditions were difficult as the patrons were quite boisterous and we weren't amplified, I could just make out what Pete was sliding. Somehow it was up to me to pick the songs, so I suggested a few Blues songs and off we went. We got into a bit of Country and then it went downhill from there as far as Nick and Pete were concerned. The patrons wanted action and if you took too long to start up a song, they'd start to sing a song all by themselves. The patrons challenged us for a sing-a-long song to which Nick and Pete shrugged there shoulders, so I challenged the audience to help me out with a song. They agreed and I started 'Twist and Shout' with the the patrons singing the response part to the song. The patrons loved it, but I could tell Nick and Pete weren't enthralled with the choice of material. They were trapped in a corner and couldn't escape. Pete kept telling Nick I was a 'One Man Party Machine' which I'm quite sure isn't their choice of music. I introduced Nick to one of my original instrumentals: Country Blues. Nick had a go, but didn't seem interested enough to get into the arrangement.
Pretty soon Nick and Pete made excuses that they had to leave, so I played a few more crowd favourites before retiring myself.
Les Chauffers A Pieds  had a session going around the corner to where everyone seemed to disappear to.

Oh well, I got my session, but I think I burned a bridge.

Not only did the rain not stop for the festival but it rained all the way home until just short of home were it was bone dry. Felt strange in the dry.

I had made the mistake of thinking it was a Blues Festival, it wasn't, it was a Music Festival and I thought it worked very well. All sorts of music! Apparently they had once been a Folk Festival, but have lately dropped the Folk restriction. I think it's a great idea, no way you could be bored at this festival. I wonder what all of those die-hard Music Police people had to say and do, they would have had nothing to criticise.

Maybe Boolara should have a rename?